Tom Thibodeau’s defensive scheme can most likely keep the Chicago Bulls afloat until superstar point guard Derrick Rose returns from ACL surgery. But as good as Thibodeau is as a defensive wizard, he’ll need one of his overpriced starters to help on the offensive end.
That means you, Carlos Boozer.
Boozer has been a model of inconsistency during his time in the Windy City. He often disappears in playoff games (sometimes an entire series) and he struggles against guys with length. In short he hasn’t lived up to his five-year, $80 million contract he signed three seasons ago as the Bulls’ big-splash acquisition in the summer of 2010.
For much of his career, Boozer has been able to ride on someone else’s back whether it was LeBron James in Cleveland, Deron Williams in Utah, and now Rose here in Chicago.
But because Rose won’t be ready until January or February, Boozer will need to step into the lead role.
“To me it all comes down to Carlos Boozer,” TNT analyst and Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller said. “He has to find a way to regain that all-star form that he had in Utah. If he can do that, combine with Luol Deng, they can stay afloat but it’s gonna be very difficult.”
As a member of the Utah Jazz from 2004-09 Boozer averaged 19.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and shot 54.4 percent from the field. Since signing that massive free agent contract with the Bulls in 2010 Boozer’s averages dipped. He’s only averaging 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds, and his shooting percentage is now at 52.1 percent.
“If you’re Tom Thibodeau you’re going to have to run the offense through Carlos Boozer. But he’s gonna have to want or demand the basketball as well,” Miller said. “He’s had more of a supporting role the last couple of years playing behind Deng and playing behind Rose. This is a chance to be a star again.”
When Boozer was in Utah, he got a lot of easy baskets off Jerry Sloan’s flex offense. If Boozer can do something well consistently it is set screens.
When Boozer and Rose are on the floor together Rose tends to use screens to free himself instead of looking for the roll guy. Thibodeau will need to dust off Sloan’s flex offense to get Boozer more touches. When Boozer gets involved he goes harder on the boards.
Expect a big bullseye on Boozer’s chest this season because the entire Bulls franchise needs him now more than ever to hold down the fort until D-Rose returns.
Projected finish in Central Division: Second.